"n. A complex speech sound or glide that begins with one vowel and gradually changes to another vowel within the same syllable, as (oi) in boil or (i) in fine."
Somebody mentioned to me today the word “diphthong.” I had a vague recollection of knowing what that word meant. Sometime a long time ago. I imagine it was back when I was in school, in English class, where such things mattered.
I just knew it had something to do with pronunciation of vowel sounds, or something like that.
After I’d looked it up and found the definition above, I realized that my many readers would, no doubt, enjoy being re-introduced to this word.
Think how erudite you’ll sound when, in casual conversation, you drop this word in among more common ones.
If you don’t think you want to sound erudite, look that word up as well. You might change your mind.
Here’s an example: “Do you really think Brad Pitt is gay? Well, I doubt that very much! Say, did you hear that diphthong when I said the word ‘doubt?’”
And speaking of pronunciation, my print reference dictionary lists several alternate ways to say that word. The first syllable can either be “dif-” or, the “h” can be dropped resulting in “dip-.’ The second syllable can either have an “ah” sound (like “bong”) or an “aw” sound (like “wrong”).
I just threw that in so you wouldn’t say something like “diffthang” and sound like an idiot.
Which reminds me, do you remember the FedEx ad where the guy comes up to a FedEx counter and asks if they’ll deliver something overnight to “Puh – hoe – nex?” When asked where “Puh-hoe-nex” is, he says, “Well, duh! It’s, y’know, the capitol of Arizona?”
You wouldn’t want to sound like that guy, right?
Come to think of it, “Phoenix” contains a diphthong, doesn’t it? The “oe” in the first syllable would be one if you pronounce it slowly, and don’t just say “Feenix” like most people do.”
So, that’s your language lesson for today. Try throwing around the word “diphthong” and see how impressed people will be.
But be careful how you say it. If you choose to drop the first “h” and pronounce it “dip-thong,” some people might think you’re talking about a really skimpy swimsuit. (An alternate definition from “DotM.”)